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Google shows alternative business directories on local searches to avoid new fine?

Although Google is always optimizing their algorithms, this update is an interesting one. It seems that Google does not want another fine on its pants and therefore shows alternative business directories in local searches? 

Why did I think something had changed?

A few days ago, I noticed that a business directory was at the top of the search results for a search from an old customer. Less than a month ago, that business directory was not visible there at all. So it seemed that there had been a bit of a shift in local search results. 

That’s why I got curious.

I then also grabbed an old screenshot to see if the site was already visible there, but at least it was not visible in the top 3.

Alternative search results

When I went to search for Google updates for local search results, I came across an article. 

Google has an unfair dominance in the market. If you follow the market a bit, you will see that they are trying to get more of the total search engine market. By this, I mean that they are even going to give more and more answers to searches and promote their own tools. 

Consider, for example, the airline ticket industry, which saw a measurable part of their website visitors shrink after Google started to get involved in this industry. If you now search for certain tickets or flights, Google Flights will appear as a kind of booking site within the search results. Those are just a few examples where Google is trying to gain greater power in search results.

Business directories visible above Google Maps

At a local level, Google uses Google My Business. Google My Business is a type of business directory intended to show local businesses at the top of the search results. This mainly happens with searches in industries where you have to visit a company in person. Just think of a physiotherapist, family doctor, dentist, etc. 

With a search linked to local companies, you will see Google Maps showing off at the top of the search results. Not that it is not a smart idea to have, but competing business directories have to lose out here. 

And that’s where the current changes seem to be visible. 

For some searches, Google now shows some business directories just above Google Maps. You hardly know that you can click on those search results.

But the number of such examples is still fairly limited. 

Are business directories now given more priority in the organic search results?

My search ended up with something else, but maybe they have something to do with each other? Perhaps they are now giving more priority to business directories in general. 

In short research on examples, I came across quite a few business directories in the top organic search results for local searches. 

Just search for some local words and see which websites are in the top 3-5. 

You will always see organic search results with overviews of companies in that sector. For example, you often see TripAdvisor, OnFlare, Wordofmouth, etc. in the top 5. So this seems to indicate that lists of companies dominate the local search results. 

What does this mean for you or your company?

Google does what it wants when it wants it.

There is no point in going against the rules. So it makes no sense to go counterproductive and try to get above these directories with your site. You may be wasting a lot of your money and time.

What can you do?

Start to optimize your Google My Business and appear at the top of Maps. Therefore, concentrate on local SEO, whereby you will use Google My Business. 

Another tip I would like to give is to also get your site in those business directory lists of those business directories. You can think of the guides above Google Maps and the overviews of the organic search results.  

Finally, you might be able to start a business directory yourself. If you’re reading this, don’t pass it on!

Ravi Chauhan
Ravi Chauhan
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